A sustainable lifestyle starts with the usual suspects — shorter showers, smarter lightbulbs, recycling, informed food choices and more. Once you get the basics down, you can move on to your home decor. Surprisingly, there are many eco-friendly options in this realm, too.
Here are eight of the best eco-friendly home decor options out there:
1. Organic Cotton
Cotton is, of course, a plant-based material already. It turns out that regular cotton teems with pesticides, insecticides and sometimes even formaldehyde. If you’re buying it, you’re contributing to these additives not only on the plant itself, but also in the soil and underlying water supply.
Do your best to choose organic cotton products for your home. You’ll find a slew of options, from furniture to accessories. Just be sure you either select natural cotton — it’s a taupe or light green color — or one that has been dyed with vegetable-based coloring.
Bamboo has become one of the most desirable eco-friendly decor materials for a reason. For one thing, it grows quickly, and it can be harvested after just two to three years, whereas some trees can take centuries to reach maturation. Bamboo then regrows without having to be replanted, and it does so without any chemicals or pesticides.
It has plenty of uses in interior design, too. You might choose bamboo flooring or furniture, and you’ll be pleased with the material’s durability. You can also find fabric made from bamboo that’s both absorbent and hypoallergenic.
Let’s literally go green with some house plants. There are plenty of reasons why they’re touted as one of the year’s top decor trends. For one thing, houseplants look great. They add texture, freshness and a pop of color to any space. On top of that, indoor greenery naturally filters and cleans the air, thus making your home environment safer and more Earth-friendly.
Cork is made from tree bark, but making it doesn’t mean the entire tree will be chopped down. Instead, manufacturers can remove the bark, which will eventually grow back, and use it to make this eco-friendly decorating material without destroying the tree.
In most cases, cork will come into your home in the form of waterproof flooring. It is naturally hypoallergenic and antimicrobial, too. In fact, more designers have begun incorporating cork into their creations — you can find accessories and even furniture made of tree bark.
Hemp has a lot in common with bamboo. It grows without the need for pesticides or chemicals, and most harvests result in a high yield for farmers. From there, hemp can become a durable fabric used for everything from clothing to accessories to furniture upholstery. Most of the time, though, it makes its way into the home as a decorative rope or twine. Everything from rugs to hanging planters to wall art can be made from the natural, eco-friendly strands.
6. Eco-Friendly Paint
Traditional paint contains volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can reduce the air quality in your home and the world around you. They react with sunlight to create ozone at our level. As such, VOCs are one of the major contributing factors to smog.
On top of that, VOCs can cause everything from headaches to nausea to muscle weakness. There’s some evidence that they contribute to cancer, too. When we use traditional paint on our walls, it emits even more VOCs into our homes than we can find outside.
As the name suggests, this eco-friendly paint will come without VOCs. Chemical pigments are ditched in favor of natural materials ranging from citrus oil to chalk to clay to lime. Even if you can’t find a fully VOC-free version of the paint you want, most lines now offer low-VOC options, as well as low-smell paints that will keep your home as fresh and safe as possible.
7. Recycled Polyester
Chances are, your cupboard or pantry is full of polyester materials known as PETs, or polyethylene terephthalate. This lightweight-yet-durable material makes the perfect container for everything from salad dressing to peanut butter to household cleaners. It’s recyclable, shatter-resistant and cheap to make.
Once you toss these containers into the recycling bin, they will get a second life as rPETs — the “r” stands for recycled. Manufacturers sterilize and dry them out before breaking them down into little chips. With some heat and time in a spinnerette, the PET chips become polyester threads, which are used for upholstery fabric, carpeting, wall tapestries and more.
8. Recycled Furniture
Finally, you can’t go wrong with a recycled piece of furniture in your eco-friendly home. Whether you receive a hand-me-down or purchase a used item from a yard sale or thrift shop, you’re extending the life of materials that have already been harvested and refined. In other words, you’ll prevent similar items from being destroyed for the sake of home decor.
You can also use recycled materials to create new pieces. A great example would be reclaimed wood — whether you use rustic slabs from a barn or driftwood from a river, you can get a truly unique piece without having to chop down a single tree.
Make It Green
The above materials not only do good for the Earth, but they also look great as part of any home decor scheme. It’s time to start the search for the eco-friendly home decor option that’s right for your space.
What are your favorite tips for green home decor?
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